The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rife with opportunities for the commercial sector, according to panelists discussing ways to do business with the department speaking during the final Wednesday session at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. But companies should be aware that the rules of engagement are changing, or already have changed, in a number of instances, so they should thoroughly research upcoming contract awards. Kevin Boshears, director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, DHS, offered a few examples of the changes.
The U.S. Defense Department has awarded $18 million to six programs to reduce the energy demand of future expeditionary outposts. The assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs will administer the funds, which are granted programs aimed at developing and rapidly transitioning energy technologies for the combat force. Defense Department-led teams representing the military services and the Department of Energy will receive the money but are seeking support and innovation from small businesses.
At a recent AFCEA International PDC course called "The Business of Winning: Seven Steps in Government Contracting," instructor Judy Bradt took an unconventional twist on teaching. From global and mobile enterprises, to tireless and wireless initiatives, she turned the topic into poetry. Watch the video here.
Yesterday's blog coverage was just too short to include the depth of advice the experts at the Small Business Intelligence Forum shared, so here are a few more ideas: -Savvy SIGNAL Scape reader Ross Andrews, ARC Program Manager, Contractor - BVTI, beat this reporter to the punch on a very important item that should be on every small company's list if it wants to do business with the intelligence community: register with the Acquisition Resource Center. See his full comment at http://bit.ly/bXmzFM.
It's sometimes difficult to figure out what's the bigger secret - intelligence or the acquisition processes of the organizations that gather it. CIA, NSA, DIA plus 13 more agencies are collectively known as the intelligence community (IC), but that's where most of the similarity ends when it comes to these information hunters and gathers when it comes to purchasing goods, services or "carbon units." One fact is absolutely true and as open source as is possible: small businesses have advocates in IC agencies that fight tooth and nail in their interest. Some of these experts presented valuable secrets as well as common sense about how to capture the IC's business at the AFCEA International Small Business Intelligence Forum.
"A lot of our warfare in the future is going to be electronic. Our enemies are going to try to take us down either through our Defense Department systems or through other systems."--Lisa N. Wolford, founder, president and CEO of CSSS.NET
While many conferences suffer from waning interest as panel session after panel session and speaker after speaker present valuable information over two days, this year's AFCEA Homeland Security conference proved to be quite the opposite. The Thursday afternoon sessions were nearly as full as the presentations that took place on Wednesday, at least in part because of the last topic discussion: procurement.
AFCEA's Small Business Committee is hosting "Federal Legislative Overview" as part of its Small Business Toolkit Series. The guest speaker for the event is Gregory Willis, counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He'll share his first-hand insight on the current legislative climate for small businesses.
The event will be held at AFCEA International headquarters on Tuesday, January 12, at 10 a.m. EST. For more information, visit the Web site or contact Dawn Falsinotti, (703) 631-6190.
A friend of mine recently bought an iPhone. She's a small business owner, and one of the first apps she has looked into buying is one that lets her take credit card payments through her phone. Previously, she could only accept cash or check payments, so this app will help make her business more customer friendly. There are several apps to choose from, two of which I've featured here: For iPhone and iPod Touch users, the iSwipe Pro Credit Card Terminal offers a single-entry screen to process each customer's transaction. The application accepts major credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express), and one account can be used for multiple iPhones.
Delays in obtaining security clearances are actually the second biggest problem for companies of any size that want to work with members of the intelligence community. The first is what many firms affectionately call the chicken-and-egg problem. Getting a security clearance for corporate personnel is not possible without having a contract that requires secured personnel; however, companies cannot be awarded a contract that requires security clearances until they have personnel that have received security clearances.
An impressive panel featuring participants from the some of the most well-known "three-lettered" intelligence organizations got down to the nuts and bolts of intelligence agencies' requirements. The discussion, which took place this morning at the AFCEA Small Business Intelligence Forum in Fairfax, Virginia, also centered on where the organizations plan to go in the near future in the information technology realm.
Representatives from the DIA, NGA and NSA shared their insights about how to get a foot in the door at intelligence community agencies during the second panel presentation at the AFCEA Small Business Intelligence Forum this morning in Fairfax, Virginia. All agreed that it requires more than the standard marketing approach but emphasized that it is worth the investment in time and talent.
Dr. William Nolte, research professor and director of the Center for Intelligence Research and Education, University of Maryland, laid the problems on the line regarding industry and intelligence community organizations during the AFCEA Small Business Intelligence Forum, which took place today in Fairfax, Virginia. Ranging from determining who is in charge to the acquisition process, Nolte forthrightly shared that the many of the systems that facilitate government-industry partnerships are broken.
The U.S. Air Force is redoubling its efforts to reach out to small businesses. David Van Buren, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and Ronald Poussard, director of the service's small business programs, explain that this effort seeks to remove the "check-the-box" mentality often associated with small business outreach. Innovation, agility, responsiveness and efficiency are some of the attributes small companies offer, but Van Buren also says, "We don't have enough competition now.
Might the recurring data breaches plaguing one large retailer after another be a dress rehearsal for a catastrophic attack that could cripple, if not destroy, the United States and its critical infrastructure? The doomsday rhetoric presented by cybersecurity experts at an issue forum Thursday, while not so calamitous, served as a wake-up call to the enduring cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
The lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) acquisition strategy, which focuses on price over value, has become the dominant approach that agencies are applying to federal contracting. The accelerated transition to this strategy has been fueled by sequestration and the growing need for government to do business at a reduced cost. Contractors are still learning how to operate in this new environment, but many fear that the emphasis on lower cost labor will reduce the expertise of the work force and result in lower levels of effort.
The main pump for the economy is not being primed.
The credit crunch that has defined the financial meltdown threatens to derail small business activity in the